Everybody has a story about what music they were exposed to and how it influenced them.
I think my experience is a bit more diverse than most. In Inwood, most
kids (after a certain age) were told what to listen to by the DJs on
My dad had several niches in the music spectrum that influenced me. Lots
of Broadway plays dating back to the 50s (maybe older). Lots of folk
music like Pete Seegar, Peter, Paul and Mary, etc. At the beach he
always had the radio tuned to an "easy listening" station, which is a
whole other subject (no room to talk about that here except to say that I
heard that A LOT). And long drives in the car between LBI and NYC we'd
listen to some big band and old blues like Lena Horn or Billie Holiday.
My oldest brother exposed me to a lot of rock music... lots of the
classics, but also some more obscure stuff like Jefferson Airplane,
Grand Funk Railroad... lots of other stuff. And at least one Bowie
album... "Changesonebowie". It was a "best of" album and it contained
"Space Oddity" which completely blew my 5th grade mind.
Of course there was a ton of other stuff... pop songs from a.m. radio,
etc. Let's not forget the novelty albums like "Loony Tunes" or the Dr.
Demento show. But if anyone asked, I'd confidently and accurately say
"I'm a Beatles fan".
By the time I got my own stereo late in the 70s, while most people were
listening to WPLJ, I found WPIX which was ushering in The New Wave. This
was great for a kid trying to build an identity which would make me
stand out (and maybe get chicks.). There were also a bunch of other
weird music outlets I was exposed to... most importantly Public Access
Television. I saw a live call in show where these freaks who called
themselves "The Sex Pistols" answered phone calls and cursed out whoever
was on the line. I also found "The Uncle Floyd" show which brought all
sorts of semi-famous bands to my screen... including The Ramones.
Well Public Access had a few video shows long before MTV was even a pipe
dream. Who was making videos back then? Well David Bowie had a few back
in '79... very weird and obscure. I swear I'm the only one in the world
who saw a lot of these show... though I'm sure there are a few others
like me. There was also this awesome chick called Ellen Foley, who I'm
still in love with... and saw her live a couple of years ago in a small
club in NYC. (She's the one The Clash sings about when they sing "Should
I stay or should I go now.")
Through all this I was aware of this underground music scene in NYC, and
I even tried to get into Max's Kansas City once... and got laughed at
by the bouncers. (The band was The Sick F*CKS... I'll tell you more
about them some time).
I guess we were still in High School when J-man, myself, and Gerrard
Foster went to the 8th Street Playhouse to see "Ziggy Stardust and the
Spiders from Mars". Well still to this day I think that film captured
the APEX of ... uh... well something... that underground glam-rock scene
that fits somewhere between New York Dolls and Peter Gabriel era
Genesis. It totally blew my freaking mind. I was kind of confused when
during the performance Bowie announced that this show would be his
last... I mean we were all aware that he had released many albums since
that performance. Of course he meant it was the last show for "Ziggy
Right around then the "Scary Monsters" album came out. It was a radical
change for Bowie, who was just coming off what I now know are three very
important albums... his "Berlin trilogy". He and Iggy Pop went to
Germany to escape the crazy and deadly lifestyle they were leading in
America... turns out Germany can get pretty crazy too. Anyway, I knew
mostly nothing of those albums, but I bought Scary Monsters and played
it out. In retrospect, it may have been a "jump the shark" album for
Bowie... though most would call it a re-invention of himself. The next
album was "Let's Dance", which had definitely jumped the shark, imo. It
was hugely popular during my High School Prom... but I thought it was
over-produced, pop-oriented, and lacked soul. This is DESPITE the fact
that Stevie Ray Vaughn played guitar on that album.
So recently I procured Bowie's entire discography. (Like six months
ago.) I was warned that his early stuff is a bit difficult. Certainly
his very first album is pretty boring, but really everything else (up to
but not including "Let's Dance") is really good. Not every song is a
winner, but every album has some amazing features. And some things might
not suite my every mood, but will sound good at another time. Diamond
Dog is rock-n-roll gold. They all give this vibe of gritty underground
activity that somehow should be hidden from polite society... but you're
in on it. Lots of complex melodies and rhythms, and some good old kick
ass rock-n-roll. Some wispy airy melodies too. He collaborates with
producers like Brian Eno, and musicians like Robert Fripp.
I didn't listen to any of his albums since "Let's Dance", but did listen to the one he put out last year... and I plan on listening to the one from last week soon. From the bits I heard, they are interesting and
entertaining... though not "rocking".